If you haven't seen the footage of the Klitz at the Orpheum from 1979, put down that goddamn baloney sandwich and watch the video below. Once the video is over, wipe the mustard off your face and get ready for Saturday night at the Hi-Tone
, when the always editorially unconscionable Ross Johnson takes over the Panther Burns and opens for the Klitz. Dear God.
We talked to original member of the Klitz Gail Elise Clifton, who is excited to play these songs to honor Panther Burns founder Tav Falco. Clifton, her sister Marcia, Amy Gassner, and Lesa Aldrege were the original members. More below.
"It’s totally a tribute," Clifton says. " I love Tav. We opened for them back in the day, and we’ll open for them, I guess in spirit. But Panther Burns is opening. So I guess that means we’re headlining. But we did happen before the Panther Burns if we’re going in chronological order. I have taken my two favorite Panther Burns songs, and I am going to perform them. I hope we have blessings. I ask Ross all the time, and he keeps saying yes."
Since the band claimed the title of Memphis' first lady punk rock ensemble, the band has reunited to play in 2006 and to cut some records with Greg Roberson and Adam Hill in 2011. But Clifton is psyched about this gig and pleased to honor Falco and Alex Chilton, who produced the Klitz.
"I know that Alex’s death had something to do with it," Clifton says. "We can always feel close to Alex through those early tracks. He was my producer. He was Amy’s first producer. Since his death, people are interested in those tracks. It made Amy and Marcia want to rejoin. We’ve got three songs from Like Flies on Sherbert and one song from Sister Loves. The interesting thing about Hook or Crook, which was a song Alex recorded on us that had been on Like Flies, but he rewrote the words for us to do at Sounds of Memphis. We’ll be doing that Saturday."
That night at the Orpheum is a special memory for Clifton.
"I love Cordell Jackson," Clifton says. "She saw us perform. When we played at the Orpheum she saw us perform in ’79. There was a Memphis Press-Scimitar article, and they quoted her. She just loved us. She got the Panther Burns, she got the Klitz, and she got the Cramps. At that time, we all had rockabilly roots. So, it’s exciting that I’m able to do that."
[Correction: I misstated Tav Falco's age in an earlier version. I apologize and regret the error.]